A virtual Comic-Con
Visit https://www.comic-con.org/cci/2020/athome to deep-dive into Comic-Con 2020.
A virtual Comic-Con
Scott Garceau (The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — I’ve never been to Comic-Con before. But, like sparrows flying to Capistrano yearly, the migration of comic geeks to San Diego, California for the annual pop-culture fest has become a dead certainty.

Yet during the pandemic, the biggest sci-fi and fantasy gathering in the universe had to rethink things. So now it’s still a dead certainty — just a virtual one.

For the first time, Comic-Con was held online from July 22-26, wrapping up with a panel chat between Guillermo Del Toro and director Scott Cooper, discussing their collaboration on new project Antlers, and its Wendigo-inspired monster.

Even better news: all its sessions, panel discussions and art displays are online for free. Advising fans to “stay safe and nerd out at home,” Comic-Con wrapped up this year’s edition yesterday, but you can still watch all the videos by visiting https://www.comic-con.org/cci/2020/athome, YouTube’s Comic-Con International page or www.ign.com/events/comic-con.

I have to admit, going to San Diego Comic-Con has never really been on my bucket list. But for those who either wish to deep-dive into Bill & Ted Face the Music, or just can’t wait to gack out over the upcoming Phineas & Ferb movie, this is a real honey trap.

“Stay safe and nerd out at home”: Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants session included Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt and Henry Zaga.

The Comic-Con@Home site is loaded with viewing options. There are Fan Tables, an Artists’ Alley, and a full programming schedule that links to videos. Some daily highlights:

• July 23: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Panel and a McFarland Toys Collectibles Segment.

• July 24: Charlize Theron heads a panel on “The Evolution of a Badass.” A LucasFilm Publishing panel on “Stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” An AMC talk on future installments of its popular The Walking Dead. A live “Cyberpunk 2077 Collectibles Segment.”

• July 25: DC@Home Day Two event focusing on the future of your (second) favorite comics team. A Disney+ panel on The Right Stuff. A Family Guy panel, and a Bill & Ted Face the Music forum (we hear that Keanu Reeves appeared, virtually at least), fun stuff on “H.P. Lovecraft Country,” and (yes!) a What We Do in the Shadows panel.

• July 26 wraps up with the Del Toro forum.

All these panels are accessible for free, and in truth, it’s probably more content than you could trek across in a five-day splurge through the San Diego grounds.

There’s even a Virtual Masquerade Costume Competition, so you can upload or stream your best Harley Quinn or Joker look of the year.

Whoa! Keanu Reeves appeared to promote upcoming sequel with Alex Winter, Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Speaking of masks, that subject is pretty on-point this year. One panel discussion put on by GeekED was titled “Watchmen and the Cruelty of Masks.” Embedded in HBO’s Watchmen series was the thesis that “masks make one cruel.” The panel ties the symbology of masking to US President Trump’s battle with pandemic etiquette (he only recently deigned to wear a facemask), along with protests erupting across the country over police brutality — also involving masks. Masks are everywhere, and they’re no longer just cool; it’s a metric of how you identify with the truth, or a version of the truth. These literate geeks shine a light on how US reality currently eerily parallels Watchmen’s TV vision: masks used by both heroes and villains. (And yet, this is a trope that’s always existed in comic book culture. Just never threatening to intersect with real life.) As one panelist says, we’ve reached a point of “society, as a whole, unmasking itself.” Hmm…

Another great panel focused on “Conspiracy Theories and Propaganda Throughout Popular Culture.” Again, Alan Moore of Watchmen fame is cited, with his quote that “Conspiracy theorists believe in conspiracies because it’s more comforting. The truth is far more frightening: Nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.”

Actually, these debates are immersive and cool, even if taken from a distance from halfway around the world, because COVID-19 has made us all spectators of a dystopian reality unfolding before our eyes. And, unlike the best sci-fi writers throughout history, we don’t really know what the outcome will be. Nerd on, Comic-Con!

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